Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/336

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ALEXANDER 296 ALEXANDER Whether he was the first to occupy that see is open to discussion. The Bollandists have also a long paper as to the exact location of Comaua as there were several places of that name, but decide for Pontus, near Neo-Ca-sarea. The curious name of the saint corner from the fact that he had, out of humility, taken up the work of burning charcoal, so as to escape worldly honours. He is called a philosopher, but it is not certain that the term is to be taken literally. His philosophy consisted rather in his preference of heavenly to earthly things. The discovery of his virtues was due to the very con- tempt with which he had been regarded. St. Greg- ory Thaumaturgus had been asked to come to Comana tohelp select a bishop for that place. As he rejected all the candidates, .some one in derision suggested that he might accept Alexander the charcoal-burner. Gregory took the suggestion seriously, summoned Alexander, and found that he had to do with a saint, and a man of great capabilities. Alexander was made bishop of the see, administered it with re- markable wisdom, and ultimately gave up his life for the Faith, being burned to death in the persecu- tion of Decius. The vagueness of the information we have about him comes from the fact that his name is not found in any of the old Greek or Roman calendars. He would have been absolutely unknown were it not for a discourse pronounced by St. Gregory .of Nyssa, on the life of St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, in which the election of Alexander is incidentally described. In the modern Roman Martyrology his ■ name occurs, and he is described as a " philosophus disertissimus." His feast is kept on 11 August. AcUt Sanctorum, August I. rn x <-. T. J. Campbell. Alexander, S.mnt, Patriarch of Alexandria, date of birth uncertain; d. 17 April, 326. He is, apart from his own greatness, prominent by the fact that his appointment to the patriarchial see e.xcluded the heresiarch Arius from that post. Arius had begun to teach his heresies in 300 when Peter, by whom he was excommunicated, was Patriarch. He was reinstated by Achillas, the successor of Peter, and then began to scheme to be made a bishop. When Achillas died .Alexander was elected, and after that Arius threw off all disguise. Alexander was particularly obnoxious to him, although so tolerant at first of the errors of Arius that the clergy nearly revolted. Finally, the heresy was condemned in a council held in Alexandria, and later on, as is well known, in the General Council of Nicsa, whose Acts Alexander is credited with having drawn up. An additional merit of this great man is that during his priesthood he passed through the bloody persecu- tions of Galerius, Maximinus, and others. It was while his predecessor Peter was in prison, waiting for martyrdom, that he and Achillas succeeded in reaching the pontiff, and interceded for the rein- statement of Arius, which Peter absolutely refused, declaring that Arius was doomed to perdition. The refusal evidently had little effect, for when Achillas succeeded Peter, Arius was made a priest; and when in turn Alexander came to the .see, the heretic was still tolerated. It is worth recording that the great Athanasius succeeded Alexander, the dying pontiff compelling the future doctor of the Church to accept the post. Alexander is described as "a man held in the highest honour by the people and clergy, magnificent, liberal, eloquent, just, a lover of God and man, devoted to the poor, good and sweet to all, so mortified that he never broke his fast while the sun was in the heavens." His feast is kept on 17 April. ^ Achi SS., Ill, February; Botler, Livct of the Saints, 17 Feb- T. J. Campbell. Alexander Saint, Cemetery of. See Catacombs. Alexander I, Scotch Prince. See Scotl. d. Alexander Briant, Blessed, English Jesuit and martyr, b. in Somersetsliire of a yeoman family about 1556; executed at Tyburn, 1 December, 15S1. He entered Hert Hall, Oxford, at an early age, where liis remarkable beauty and purity of countenance won for him the appellation, "the beautiful Oxford youth". At Oxford he became a pupil of Fatlier Robert Persons to which fact, together with liis association with Richard Holtby, is attributed his conversion. Having left the university he entered the English college at Reims, whither Holtby had preceded him, and was ordained priest 29 March, 1578. Assigned to the English mission in August of the following year he laboured with exemplary zeal in his own county of Somersetshire. During his ministrations he reconciled to the Faith the father of liis former tutor, Father Robert Persons, and the intimacy resulting from tliis fresh tie between pupil and master probably led to the former's un- timely death. A party of the persecution, searching for Fatlier Robert Persons, placed Blessed Alex- ander under arrest, 28 April, 15S1, in the hope of extorting information. After fruitless attempts to this end at Counter Prison, London, he was taken to the Tower where he was subjected to excruciating tortures. To the rack, starvation, and cold was added the inhuman forcing of needles under the nails. It was during this confinement that Blessed Alexander penned his pathetic letter to the Jesuit Fathers in England requesting admission into the Society, which was granted. But liis membership was short-lived; together with six other priests he was arraigned, 16 November, 1581, in Queen's Bench, Westminster, on the charge of high treason, and condemned to death. The details of this last great suffering, which occurred on the 1 December following, like those of the previous torture are re- volting. Through either malice or carelessness of the executioner he was put to needless suffering. His face is said to have been strikingly beautiful even up to his death. In his letter to the Jesuit Fathers he protests that he felt no pain during the tortures he underwent, and adds: " Whether tliis that I say be miraculous or no, God knoweth". He was scarcely more than twenty-five years of age at the time of liis martyrdom. Camm, Lii'es of the English Martyrs (London, 1905), II, 397-423; Gillow, Bibliograph. Diet, of English Calholica (London, 1885), I, 293; Foley, Records S. J., IV, 343-367; Briefe Historic, 85-91; Persons, De Persecutione Anglicana, E. F. Saxton. Alexander Natalis (or Noel Alexandre), a F'rench historian and theologian, of the Order of St. Dominic, b. at Rouen, 19 January, 1639; d. in Paris, 21 August, 1724. He made his early studies at the Dominican College of Rouen and, after entering the Dominican Order in that city, 9 May, 1655, studied philosophy and theology in the convent of Saint Jacques, Paris, where he afterwards taught for twelve years, during which time he gained some renown as a preacher. In 1672, at the wish of his superiors, he obtained the licentiate from tlie Sor- bonne, and in 1675, the doctorate. About this time he attracted much attention by writing against Launoy on the subject of simony. Persuaded by that generous promoter of learning, the great French minister, Jean Baptiste Colbert, to enter the society of savants of which the Abb(5 Colbert (later Arch- bishop of Rouen) was the central figure, he lectured before it on particular events of history with such success that he was urged to write a complete his- tory after the method that he had followed in his lecture. He yielded to this wish of the French scholar and published at Paris, in 1677, the first volume, bearing the general title "Selecta historiio ecclesiasticsE capita et in loca ejusdem insignia